Almond Coconut Bars
This is the recipe that got me through Halloween this year without eating a single fun sized candy (for the first time since I had enough teeth to chew them!). It is a modification of a recipe posted by Riki Shore at Three Squares. I immediately liked how easy this recipe sounded. At the time, I had also been meaning to try the more involved recipe for Chocolate Almond Joy Bars by Elena Amsterdam (I LOVE her blog www.elenaspantry.com). So, I was inspired, but I also saw some ways I could adjust the recipe to reflect my newest information on nutrition.
This is a bit of an aside, but I need to talk about flax meal for a second. The original recipe contained flax meal and I could see no reason for it. In the olden days, I used to add flax meal to everything to “boost the omega-3 content”. But, here’s the thing: flax seed is NOT a good source of omega-3 fatty acids! Flax contains high levels of ALA, a form of omega-3 that your liver has to convert to either EPA or DHA to be useful to your body. Your liver is just not that efficient at doing this (maybe because it’s pretty busy as it is). It’s much better to get your omega-3s from fish or omega-3 eggs (you’re basically letting the fish and chicken livers do the conversion for you). I will write a more detailed post on omega-3 fatty acids soon. Suffice it to say, they are vitally important, but ALA hardly counts. Let me be clear though, I do love flax meal as an ingredient in grain free baking because it can really help hold something together. But because the base of this bar is essentially raw, it isn’t the flax meal holding it together, but rather the coconut oil and almond butter. For this reason too, these bars are best consumed right out of the fridge or room temperature (and just like the original recipe, these aren’t a great take-along treat).
I should also put in a bit of a note on coconut oil. I will expound on the health benefits of this oil is a future post too, but I want to make sure you buy the right kind of coconut oil for this recipe. You can find coconut oil either as “extra virgin” or “refined”. Extra virgin coconut oil has a delicious coconut aroma when you open it and definitely has a distinctive flavor when you cook with it. This flavor is key in this recipe. My local grocery store only carries a naturally refined coconut oil (beware chemically refined oils!), which is still very healthy but has a much more neutral flavor. If you are having trouble finding coconut oil of either variety, it’s pretty easy to get online.
A note about taste: These bars are not very sweet (less sweet than the original recipe). If you already eat a lowish carb paleo diet, these will probably be as addictive for you as they are for me (seriously, will not be making these again for a long time because I can’t help myself!). My sugar taste buds are so sensitive now that these do taste deliciously sweet to me. If you are new to paleolithic nutrition or are hoping that your children will eat these (mine both won’t), I suggest using 60-70% chocolate for the topping to add some more sweetness. Keep in mind that adding more sweetness also means these should only be an occasional treat.
- 1 cup Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
- 2 cups whole Raw Almonds
- 1/2 cup Almond Butter
- 2/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (This is a great place to use Gold Label)
- 1 Tbsp Coconut Flour
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Blackstrap Molasses
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
- 3 oz 85% dark chocolate (I use two squares of Unsweetened Chocolate and one square of Semi-Sweet Chocolate).
1. Melt coconut oil in microwave on low power or in a small saucepan on the stove on low heat.
2. Line a 9×9” baking pan with wax paper.
3. Pulse almonds in food processor until it resembles coarse sand (the goal is something a little coarser than almond meal).
4. Add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate to the food processor and pulse until it forms a textured paste (the bits of almond and coconut shouldn’t be too small). I also finish with a good stir by hand to make sure all the ingredients are incorporated evenly.
5. Pour into baking pan and smooth out to the corners. Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour.
6. Melt chocolate either in microwave on low power on in a double boiler. Drizzle over almond coconut base and spread with a spoon or rubber spatula until evenly coated. Place bars back in refrigerator for approximately 5 minutes, until chocolate is solid but still a little soft (for ease of cutting). Cut into bars and store in a plastic container in the fridge.
Do you need help finding any ingredients? Check out Important Pantry Items for the Paleo Baker.